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Hate crime at New London church

Threats carved into couple’s car

By Scott Bellile

A woman’s disability and the Texas background she and her husband share have been targeted by anonymous threats.

Timothy and Kristie Landwair of Oshkosh are asking for the public’s help in determining who’s behind three separate incidents this spring that they believe are linked.

The acts appear to stem from a parent or community member’s anger toward Timothy, who is coordinator of faith formation and youth ministry at Most Precious Blood Catholic Church in New London.

The first occurrence was in February when Tim received an unsigned letter mailed to his Oshkosh apartment. The writer accused him of refusing to help parish families with expenses to send youth to the March for Life anti-abortion rally in Washington, D.C.

The writer included jabs at Kristie, a wheelchair user who isn’t an MPB employee. The writer referred to her as Tim’s “invalid wife” and said he’s using her disability to make people feel sorry for him.

“Your (sic) trying so hard to show everyone how much smarter you are and showing how stupid you really are,” the sender wrote. “Your (sic) failing at everything. We don’t want you here. Your (sic) fat and pathetic take your crippled wife and go back to redneck Texas. No one will miss you!”

A month later, Monday, March 21, Timothy was leading an adult class called The Seven Last Words of Christ and the Passion at MPB. Kristie was in attendance with him, so they brought the wheelchair accessible van from Oshkosh and parked it on a street between 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. After the class, Tim found a chip in the rear bumper and no cars parked nearby. The chip hadn’t been there earlier when he took the van to the carwash.

The third incident, the main one in which the Landwairs seek information or witnesses, occurred Thursday, March 31, between 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Timothy’s 1999 Cadillac Seville had been keyed with the messages “Leave or die” and “Texas sucks” in the hood. It was parked in the driveway of the church rectory, in the 100 block of East Quincy Street.

“It was hurtful and just kind of alarming,” Timothy said.

The parish and the Diocese of Green Bay are not liable for either of the vehicle damages and will not cover the costs, Timothy said. A New London police report states Timothy estimated the damage to his hood to be worth $800. Their insurance costs went up as a result, and Timothy still has to drive the car to work with the etchings in the hood.

The couple no longer brings the van to New London because they fear further damages. Kristie said she won’t risk it because on top of buying the van, she spent $25,000 and six weeks to have the van modified with accessibility features.

The Landwairs moved to Oshkosh this past fall from Texas (Kristie was Miss Wheelchair Texas 2006). They said they’ve made great friends in New London so far and they realize the culprit (or culprits) doesn’t truly represent the city or the parish.

“It’s hard to feel unwelcome and uncertain,” Kristie said. “It’s sad. It’s really sad. I just don’t understand it. We’ve never been treated this way and it’s appalling. And we don’t know what this person wants or why they’re doing it.

“We’re just nervous that things will keep happening,” she said.

Anyone with a tip can call New London police at 920-982-8505.

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